Weight loss

Christiane Fux studied journalism and psychology in Hamburg. Since 2001, the experienced medical editor has been writing magazine articles, news and non-fiction texts on all conceivable health topics. In addition to her work for NetDoktor, Christiane Fux is also a prose writer. In 2012, her first mystery novel was published, and she also writes, designs, and publishes her own mystery games.

In many cases, weight loss is intentional: people deliberately eat less or exercise more in order to achieve a negative calorie balance – the pounds melt away. Sometimes, however, appetite and kilos disappear unintentionally. If this persists for a long time, or if weight loss occurs even though you eat normally, a medical condition may be the reason. Read here what reasons weight loss can have and when you should go to the doctor.

Weight loss

Brief overview

  • Causes of weight loss: z. B. infections, gastrointestinal diseases, food intolerances, diabetes, tumors, medications, mental illnesses, alcohol or illegal drugs
  • When to see the doctor? If you lose weight over a longer period of time for no apparent reason; if additional symptoms such as pain, digestive problems, fever, fatigue etc. Add
  • treatment: The doctor treats the underlying cause, z. B. with medication, surgery or psychotherapy. Appetite can be stimulated by regular mealtimes, bitter foods, ginger, and plenty of exercise (preferably in the fresh air).

Weight loss: Causes and possible diseases

A person loses weight whenever he consumes more calories than he takes in. Often the Weight loss wantedTo lose weight, many change their diet to low-calorie meals and exercise more.

In other cases the Weight loss unintentional. Sometimes the reason is nothing to worry about – heartbreak, stress, or an approaching infection can quickly spoil your appetite and lead to weight loss. In most cases, however, this is only about one to two kilos. Even in old age, a lack of appetite and the resulting weight loss are not uncommon – among other things, because the calorie-consuming muscle mass is reduced in old age and the stomach empties with a delay.

However, illnesses, medication or addictive substances can be behind an unwanted weight loss:


Appetite is often reduced in acute and chronic infections. In addition, there are often symptoms such as fatigue and poor performance. Sometimes these symptoms are the first signs that something is wrong in the body. Infectious diseases that are associated with particularly severe weight loss include HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

Weight is also lost by those who harbor parasites in their intestines, for example a cattle tapeworm or fish tapeworm.

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Food allergies and intolerances

Allergies and intolerances to certain foods, such as a Lactose intolerance (lactose intolerance) can lead to weight loss – the consumption of "critical" foods Food, in fact, often triggers violent complaints such as abdominal pain, flatulence and nausea. Out of fear of this, many sufferers only dare to eat a little – or they forego a meal altogether if nothing digestible is available at the time.

In the case of some intolerances, the body is only partially able to process the food ingested. This is the case, for example, with intolerance to gluten (celiac disease) the case.

Other diseases of the digestive tract

Diseases such as gastrointestinal infections, ulcers, gastritis and pancreatitis can cause nausea and/or pain in the abdomen, which can significantly dampen the desire to eat. In some diseases, the body is also unable to absorb sufficient nutrients through the intestines (Malabsorption). This is the case, for example, with diarrheal diseases as well as chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.

Diseases of other organs

They can also be accompanied by a loss of appetite. This applies, for example, to cirrhosis of the liver, kidney weakness (renal insufficiency), obstruction of the bile ducts or the adrenal disease Addison’s disease.

Metabolic diseases

Metabolic diseases can also be the reason for weight loss, for example the Hyperthyroidism (Hyperthyroidism). In this case, the metabolism runs at full speed due to an overproduction of certain hormones – calorie consumption rises sharply, so that those affected lose weight unintentionally despite a constant eating pattern.

People with Type 1 diabetes (diabetes type 1) decrease if their blood sugar is not sufficiently adjusted. Due to a malfunction of the immune system, the pancreas produces too little or no insulin in them. The lack of this hormone means that body cells cannot absorb the energy-rich blood sugar. In order to get the energy it needs, the body then has to fall back on fat deposits.

In contrast, type 2 diabetics, in whom the body’s cells become increasingly insensitive to insulin, tend to be overweight.


They are often accompanied by massive weight loss – sometimes even before the chemotherapy leads to nausea or the fear for life costs sufferers their appetite. Unexplained weight loss is often the first symptom of a malignant tumor disease: when tumors grow, they deprive the body of nutrients, causing the patient to lose weight. Doctors therefore sometimes speak of "consumptive diseases" such as anorexia (anorexia).

Mental illnesses

Mental illnesses can also lead to weight loss. People with Anxiety disorders or Depression often have little appetite and therefore eat little. However, the disorders can also manifest themselves in the opposite way – through weight gain, as those affected eat a lot to compensate for the negative feelings.

At Eating disorders In cases such as anorexia or bulimia, the situation is different again. In the case of anorexia, sufferers must – at least initially – fight hunger. Since they eat extremely little and often exercise excessively, they continue to lose weight.

Bulimics, in turn, succumb to repeated binge eating episodes. To prevent them from gaining weight, they deliberately vomit afterwards – for example, by sticking a finger down their throat. Sometimes bulimics lose weight as a result.

Medications and drugs

Some medications can also spoil the appetite. These include, for example, the heart medication digitalis, certain asthma medications, medications for attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs.

Weight loss can also occur in people who consume drug. This includes – although it has many calories – also alcohol. For those who overindulge in beer, wine& over a long period of time Co. Drinks, brings its organism into a nutrient deficiency, since alcoholics always more "empty" Absorb calories through alcohol. This leads to malnutrition and weight loss.

Diseases with this symptom

Find out here about the diseases in which the symptom can occur:

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